WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - One week after WECT first aired the story of Keith Hester, religious organizations and kind strangers have stepped up to help.
Hester and his wife have been living in a motel since being displaced from their home by Hurricane Florence. The FEMA program that paid for hotel or motel rooms as emergency sheltering for Florence survivors ended March 12.
Since then, the Hesters have been paying nearly $500 a week to stay in the motel and off the streets. Hester also lost his job after Florence, and has been working with Wilmington Response to help other survivors, despite needing help himself.
Paul Dunn with Lutheran Services CArolinas reached out to WECT and said the group would pay for two additional weeks in the hotel for the Hesters. If their hotel stay extends beyond that, Dunn said, “We will not let them be homeless.”
“One of my teammates saw your story and said ‘hey check this out.’ This is another person and family we can help. Not only a family in need but these folks pay it forward and try and help other people. So that sparked our interest to try and help. So we reached out to them and it’s a pure joy to be able to help people,” Dunn said.
Lutheran Services Carolinas is a non-profit organization with a team dedicated to helping disaster survivors.
“Lutherans around the world donate dollars to help our neighbors in need so with this family with the government transitional shelter assistance running out, our goal is to not let anyone be homeless. They’ve been through enough and they’re trying to help other people at the same time," Dunn said.
Hester was hesitant to tell his story, but agreed to do so with the hope of bringing attention to all who are still suffering. WECT caught up with him Tuesday after he found out he would be receiving help.
“I was not expecting that at all. I wasn’t expecting any donations really but I am very thoughtful and thankful for it,” Hester said.
After the two-week extended motel stay, the Hesters will have two more months of permanent housing. Dunn said a Lutheran woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, has offered to house the Hesters for free for two months.
Despite all of his hardships, Hester said he thanks God every night for the blessings he does have,"
“It’s God hard at work. You have faith he’ll step up. It might not be when you want him too but he’ll be there,” he said.
And the help didn’t stop at housing for the couple. After the initial story aired, a Kure Beach couple also got in touch with Keith and his wife.
“Your story really helped us and people that have heart reached out. There’s another couple that really helped us pay on some bills. Ed and Barb in Kure Beach. They were real thoughtful,” Hester said.